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Klimt's Vienna 2012

17 August 2012

Report from Klimt’s-Vienna in The Month of August 2012




Considering that Vienna’s Albertina possesses one of the finest collections of Drawings & Prints by such Masters as Albrecht Dürer, it is amazing that its Director & Curators decided to Curtail their Klimt-Zeichnung exhibition in early June, instead of letting it run through the Summer.

Thus, the Albertina partly lost-out on the Klimt-Frenzy that was seizing almost every Museum & Gallery in the Austrian-Capital.

Instead, in July & August, the Albertina was showcasing French-Impressionists from a Private-Collection, among other Treats, including the Baroque & Neo-Classical Albertine-Imperial-Chambers.

Nonetheless, there were Klimts enough for every Venue that wanted to Celebrate this Ardent-Secessionist, who was often seen as Too-Advanced in his own time.

Of course, the [almost] Most-Famous-Klimt, Die Goldene Adele, was not in Vienna in Person.

The wondrous-vision of Adele Bloch-Bauer was to be seen only in Posters.

She remained on Fifth-Avenue & 86th Street—at Ronald Lauder’s Neue-Galerie—where she is Enshrined as one of the Most-Costly-Paintings ever purchased by a Very-Rich-Man!

In fact, you can Save-Money on the Trip-to-Vienna to see Klimt-in-All-His-Glory by just stopping-by on Upper-Fifth. Lauder has a Representative-Selection of Klimts! [Also some Spread-Legged Egon Schieles…]

As if the Klimt-Program were not full enough, Klimt, Das Musical is on-the-way!

For those who were determined to sample every Klimt-Manifestation on-offer in Vienna, there was even a 150-Jahre-Gustav-Klimt-Pass-Zum-Jubiläum.

The Pass not only got you a reduction of One-Euro on each Museum-Admission, but also a Passport-Stamp for each of the Ten-Participating-Museums & Collections:

The Belvedere, the Kunsthistorisches-Museum, the Leopold-Museum, the Albertina, MAK, the Österreiches-Theater-Museum, the Wien-Museum, the Künstlerhaus, Secession, & the Textil-Mustersammlung Emilie Flöge.

With all Ten-Stamps, you were given a Gift at one of the Klimt-Venues.

But, with only Five-Stamps, you could enter the Klimt-Lottery!

For the First-Three-Winners, there is to be an "Exclusive-Weekend” on Lake-Attersee, including a visit to the Klimt-Centre & a Trip on the Klimt-Boat!

[The Attersee is not only a Preferred-Vacation from Vienna for the Elite, but it’s also where some of the most important Art-Masterpieces stolen by the Nazis were hidden…]

The remaining Seven-Lottery-Winners will receive all Ten-Catalogues from the various Venues.

As there is no longer a cheap Book-Rate, these should cost-a-lot to Mail…


The Wien-Museum/Karlsplatz—Also Known as the Süd-Bahnhof

Actually, the real Süd-Bahnhof has disappeared, replaced with a Chaos-of-Construction for a new South-RR-Station.

So it’s a bit Cute that the Wien-Museum has posted a Süd-Bahnhof Sign over its Entrance.

Nonetheless, as both Secession & the Künstlerhaus are also near Karlsplatz, it was a Stroke-of-Genius that Your Roving Arts-Reporter was staying at the Historic Kaiserhof, only a few blocks away.

Karlsplatz is dominated by the amazing Baroque Karlskirche, flanked by Two-Towering-Columns, replete with spiraling Historical-Reliefs. It also features the wonderful Jugendstil-Stadt-Bahn-Stations of Otto Wagner.

The Wien-Museum show is an excellent introduction to Klimt, his Family, his Background, his Influences, his Early-Sketches, his favored Subjects, & later Iconic-Designs. Such as the Pallas-Athena & other Poster-Motifs

The Museum also has excellent collections of Historical-Art, Sculpture, & even Archeological-Artifacts: Effectively, Art-in-Vienna-Over-the-Centuries

Without Klimt: Klimt & the Künstlerhaus

On entering the Künstlerhaus, you are advised that No-Klimts are on-view.

The Point of this Unusual-Documentation is that Klimt & like-minded Modern-Artists—they were the Most-Modern of their day—were tired of Historicism & Academic "Rules.”

They wanted to Secede from the Künstlerhaus, which they did in 1897—with much bad-feeling on the part of the fusty Old-Guard. 

That’s why Josef Olbrich’s "Golden-Cabbage” home of Secession was constructed not far away…

Nonetheless, Klimt did get a Major-Retrospective in 1943—under the banner of the Künstlerhaus—so he was Not-Guilty of creating Entartete-Kunst, the Nazi-Regime’s favored term for so-called Degenerate-Art.

This Show was mounted at the behest of Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna. Originally, he had been Head of the Hitler-Youth!

[His Hitler-Youth-Assistant was Bodo von Laferantz, married to Verena Wagner, Sister of Wieland & Wolfgang Wagner, & thus Uncle to Katherina Wagner & Eva Wagner-Pasquier, currently directing the Wagner-Festival in Bayreuth,]

Later, in 1985, Klimt also had a Major-Place in Traum & Wirklichkeit, an impressive Künstlerhaus Exhibition.

The Beethoven-Frieze at Secession

Now undergoing Major-Restoration, Klimt’s Beethoven-Frieze of 1902, installed in the Secession-Gallery, was greeted as a Masterpiece of Jugendstil—or Art-Nouveau—on the one hand, but also as "Painted-Pornography.”

What one can actually see in-situ, although incomplete, is astonishing. Fortunately there are ample Videos & Drawings to give one an Idea of how the Original appeared.

Klimt’s Beethoven-Frieze has long been knocked-about, toured-around, in-storage, & generally misused & abused, so the Restoration is very welcome…

What is more astonishing, however, are the Odd-Art-Constructions that infest the Main-Floor of Secession. Klimt would not be amused!

Gegen-Klimt—Die "Nuda-Veritas” at the Österreiches-Theater-Museum…

The Noted Austrian-Playwright Hermann Bahr defended this Erotic-Image!

At the Leopold-Museum: Klimt Up-Close & Personal…

The Leopold-Museum is a Modern-Structure sited inside what used to be the Imperial-Habsburg-Stables, now converted into havens for many kinds & forms of Art, both Created & Performed

During the Klimt-Celebrations, it has mounted an astounding Introduction to Klimt & his Works, with Klimt’s own observations on individual Artworks, as well as Personal-Insights into this essentially Shy & Withdrawn-Individual.

The Leopold has an impressive collection of Klimts, but it also has the Largest-Collection-of-Egon-Schiele’s-Artworks-in-the-World!

So these two rather different Geniuses are currently sharing the Limelight at the Leopold

Among the Major-Klimts now on-view are: Death & Life & The Golden Knight or Life Is a Battle

Klimt’s fascination with the marvelous Ravenna-Mosaics is documented with a glowing reproduction of Empress Theodora.

150-Jahre-Gustav-Klimt at the Obere-Belvedere… 

The Lavish-Baroque-Palace that is the Obere-Belvedere was created—at Great-Expense—by Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was an Imperial-Field-Marshall when the Ottoman-Turks were driven from the Gates-of-Vienna.

Supposedly, his Share of the Booty helped pay for this Summer-Retreat from the Heart & Heat of the bustling City. He also had to borrow to finance this Elaborate-Folly.

Actually, there are Two-Belvederes, an Upper & a Lower, complete with Formal-Gardens, Fountains, Sphinxes, & Stables.

What was a Savoy was doing in Vienna, so far away from Northern-Italy

Not only could a Savoyard hire-out as a Mercenary, but Savoy, in those times, was part of the vastly-expansive Austro-Hungarian-Empire.

The Chambers devoted to the Upper-Belvedere’s 30-Klimt-Masterpieces are themselves impressive, but they are eclipsed by such magnificent images as Klimt’s Portraits of the real Fritza Riedler & the Biblical Judith.

Not to overlook the stunning & richly-ornamented image of Der Kuss, or The Kiss

But the overwhelming Array of KlimtsGardens, Portraits, Lakes, Fantasies—is itself almost overwhelmed by the Majesty of Architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt’s great Marble-Hall!

There is a Majestic-Baroque-Staircase that leads from the Entry-Hall up to this Majestic-Hall, but it was Absolutely-Forbidden to Photograph even the slightest detail of this Treppenhaus.

As this Staircase was recently restored to a Glowing-White-Magnificence, with the Financial-Aid & Landmark-Encouragement of the World-Monument-Fund—of which I am a Donor-Member—I thought I ought to be allowed a Shot or two for INFOTOGRAPHY™?

But NO!

It was OK to photograph World-Monument-Fund-Projects in Lisbon, Rajasthan, & Angkor, but not in the Obere-Belvedere


Although the Vast-Bulk of the Stiftung-Ludwig-Museum looks rather like an immense Beached-Whale, in the Context of the former Habsburg-Imperial-Stables, it yields to no other Viennese-Museum in its Trendiness.

The Current-Show—closing 23 September 2012—is so Unusual that you might want to get the Catalogue for yourself! [ or]

Seen as a "Barometer of the Zeitgeist,” the Curators of Reflecting-Fashion believe it is Socially-Relevant!

For Fashion-Art-Historians, this show is especially interesting as it provides re-creations of Costume-Designs for early Soviet-Constructivist-&-Surrealist-Stage-Productions!

To honor its Viennese-Base, there are also Handsome-Fashions conceived by Artist-Designers of the Wiener-Werkstätte.

Along with Relevant-Artworks, these Gowns, Dresses, Smocks, & Costumes are juxtaposed with Fashions of the 1960s & 1970s, showing how both Art-&-Functionality came to inform the designs of the most Avant-Garde-Imaginations.

Gustav Klimt is echoed even here, as a photo of his Great-Good-Friend, Emilie Flöge, shows her in an intensely-patterned Flowing-Gown, dominated by Vertical-Black-&-Whie-Stripes & Checkerboard-Borders.

Some of the Costume-Suggestions are clearly meant to Astonish, rather than to provide Practical-Protection from the Elements.

One of the most astonishing of the Installations, however, is Christo’s Wedding-Dress, of 1967, when he was getting-into Wrapping.


Almost always in the Forefront of Innovative-Exhibitions of Modern-Design & Contemporary-Art in Vienna, MAK was the first Wiener-Museum to celebrate Gustav Klimt in his Anniversary-Year.

Created as the Museum-für-Angewandte-KunstDecorative or Applied-ArtsMAK has since transformed itself also into a Major-Showplace for Contemporary-Arts.

Its Klimt-Contribution featured the Mural-Designs Klimt made for the Dining-Room in Palais-Stoclet in Brussels, Belgium.

This was & is a fabulous Jugendstil-Modernist House, enshrining in its Architecture, Interior-Design, & all other aspects of Decoration, down to Curtains & Cutlery, the Principles of the Wiener-Werkstätte.

Lavish with Klimt-Kult swirls & whirls & jeweled-details, these Remarkable-Cartoons were on-view until Mid-July, under the Title of Erwartung-und-Erfüllung—or Expectation-&-Fulfillment.

Arts-Rambles has already reported on this exhibition, thanks to MAK sending the Handsome-Catalogue & CD way back in March.

If you are a Klimt-Collector or Fan, you might want to get these invaluable-items for your own Collection. Try the Website:

When I & my Critic-Colleague & Webmaster Scott Bennett arrived at MAK, in Mid-August, we were obviously too late for the Stoclet-Friezes.

But there was still much to see in the made-over Habsburgian-Imperial-Style-Interiors of the Main MAK Museum. Galleries are dedicated to a kind of Time-Line of Decorative-Art-History, including the 21st-Century!

Not to disappoint us, however, the MAK Press-Officer gave us two huge & heavy Catalogues for two Current-Design-Shows…

MADE 4 YOU: Design for Change…

From Audi-Auto-Mock-Ups to Prosthetic-Devices, there are now stunning new Products either already On-the-Market or In-Development that will make you want to Clear-Out-Your-Closets, to make room for all this wonderful New & Useful Stuff!

In effect, as MAK-Director Christoph Thun-Hohenstein observes, this is a Design-Ladder to the Future.

It is divided into Eight-Challenging-Sections:

Kontext: Changing Worlds/Changing Design…

Mobilität: Mobility—Visible/Invisible…

Digitale-Konvergence: Dissatisfaction is the Motor-of-Change…

Leben-und-Freizeit: Life-&-Fun…

Leben-und-Arbeit: Life-&-Work…

Gesundheit: Health…

Überleben: Survival…

Werkzeuge: Tools…

The richly-illustrated & essay-explicated Made 4 You Catalogue is a Must for anyone interested in New-Movements in Design-for-Living!

DINGE: schlict  und einfach—THINGS: plain & simple…

Simplicity is a long-way-off from the Artful-Over-Ornamentation of Gustav Klimt.

But this remarkable exhibition provides a kind of Tonic to Vienna’s current Orgy of Decorative-Overkill.

Drawn from the Museum’s own Collections, the Objects—from Furniture to Ceramics & Fabrics—celebrate not only the Aesthetic-Achievements of Simplicity-in-Design, but also the Functional/Social-Values of making Chairs, Spoons, & Tables both Attractive & Useful.

The Spare-Lines of Biedermeier-Chairs to the Bentwood-Furniture of Michael Thonet are presented as a forward-movement toward more Simplicity, in contrast to the Imperial-Habsburg-Style.

But even the Circular-Scrollings of Thonet’s famed Rocking-Chairs harks-back more to the Baroque than forward toward the Furniture of Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Kolo Moser, Frank Lloyd Wright, & Marcel Breuer.

Another Theme in this challenging show is Plain-Useful/Luxuriously-Simple.

It surveys Everyday-Utensils from the Renaissance until Today, showing how the most ordinary things—Bowls, Vases, Cutlery—can be both Elegantly-Handsome & Strikingly-Practical.

A Third-Segment of this show features Simplicity: The East-Asian Way.

This Time-Line begins in the Fourth-Century-BC…

Reduction was seen as an expression of Exemplary-Modesty, quite fitting for Buddhists.

Minimalism in Modern-Architecture is not neglected, but it has to be explored in Photos & Designs, rather than in Objects.

The MAK/ZINE-Catalogue of this Exhibition is a Keeper. Contact MAK for Your-Copy!

From Palais-Liechtenstein in Vienna to the Principality-of-Liechtenstein:

Vaduz is a long way off from Vienna, but the Princes-of-Liechtenstein—when there was still an Austro-Hungarian-Empire—had their very own Palais-Liechtenstein in the Habsburg-Capital.

It is still there, although the K.u.KKaiserliche-und-KöniglicheEmpire ceased to exist in the wake of The-Great-War.

Even in the wake of The-Second-World-War, Vaduz was a sleepy little, almost-provincial, town, so one could see why the Reigning-Prince might still want to make a get-away to Vienna.

Of course, there’s also a Palais-Liechtenstein in Feldkirch, but that’s even more Provincial than Vaduz…

What’s amazing today is how the Heart-of-Vaduz has been re-imagined with blocks of stunning Post-Post-Modernist-Architecture!

When Your Roving Arts-Reporter first went to Vaduz—way back in 1957—it was still a pokey little place, but worth-a-visit because of the Magnificent-Art-Collection of the Prince & his Postal-Museum.

It’s perhaps too much to say that Liechtenstein used to Live from sales of its Unique-Postal-Issues, but they were in-demand by Stamp-Collectors all over the world.

They still are!

Indeed, the Main-Street, lined with Museums & Arts-Complexes—as well as Government-Bldgs—has Giant-Stamps on the Sidewalks all along the way…

The Postal-Museum is a Must, but there is also the Great-Black-Cube of the new Kunstmuseum- Liechtenstein—where you can see not only the Masterpieces of the Princely-Collection, but also the latest in International-Art-Experiments!

I was astonished at the bold Lines & Colored-Geometrics of the canvases of Günter Fruhtrunk—who died in 1982—which were featured the very next day in Der Standard, Vienna’s New-York-Times.

These surely have to be seen at MoMA very soon!

But, if he died thirty-years-ago, perhaps they already have-been & I missed them?

Fruhtrunk called these exciting works: Farbe Rhythmus Existenz.

For the Record: Kunstmuseum- Liechtenstein shared its Bill Bollinger: The Retrospective with Manhattan’s Sculpture-Center, from April to July 2012!

There’s also the Liechtensteinisches-Landesmuseum along the Main-Drag.

It boasts 42-Exhibition-Rooms, featuring an Art-Historical March-of-Time, from the earliest Archeological-Findings, through the Middle-Ages & into the 21st-Century.

Also: some Natural-History of the Princely-Domains!

Art-Works are installed all along the High-Street, complementing the Modern-Façades & especially those 19th-Century-Landmarks that still survive.

But that’s not all: There’s also the Kunstraum-Engländerbau & The-Gasometer!

I would never have seen any of this—at this Point-in-Time—had it not been for the initiative of my dear friends Gerd & Uli Alfons, who had promised me an Outing to Liechtenstein when I returned from Luzern, where I intended to photograph the Totentanz, a series of paintings of the Medieval-Cycle of the Dance-of-Death, under the shingled-trusses of an ancient Wooden-Bridge that zig-zags across the Lake-of-Lucerne.

Unfortunately—having already Fallen-on-My-Head in San-Francisco, photographing the 

Golden-Gate-Bridge with a Trick-Lens—I now have No-Sense-of-Balance.

So, taking a Backward-Step, I fell once again, only this time on my Back

This was almost my very own Dance-of-Death!

Gerd Alfons—who is the Genius-Production-Director of the Bregenz-Festival—didn’t want me to miss the all the Promised-Wonders of the Liechtenstein-Museums, so he raced some six-blocks-away to the City-Hospital to borrow a Wheelchair, from which I savored all the Artworks, inside & out.

Thank-you, Gerd & Uli!

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